Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I didn’t realize that when I began writing but again, my tendency to self-edit revealed it on the Loyola Press website. The website also offered a book and reading guide for Lent called “Finding God in the Mess.” It sounds pretty appropriate for where I am right now, so I ordered a copy and will attempt to use it in my morning meditation time (at least, I’m hoping it will inspire me to have a morning meditation time. ; ).)
I’m wondering this morning if this is how God always works without me noticing. I come to Him, messed up, discouraged, able to do little but say, “here I am.” Then He uses some not-so-admirable trait (my perfectionistic tendency to self-edit) to lead me to a greater awareness or to a path that leads me deeper into His presence.
Today a friend sent me a quote from Dorothy Day: “Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up.” Ignatius knew he was loved by God. He encouraged others to embrace their own belovedness and then to go out and love others. What if, instead of approaching a problem with “how can I fix this?”, I asked, “how can I love in this?” How can I love myself when I don’t perform to my own expectations? How can I receive God’s love and others’ love for me? How can I listen to a troubled friend and just love, instead of taking on the responsibility to solve their issues?
It’s the “ever more love” that calls for my attention. Ever more love when I repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Ever more love when others don’t respond to my obviously sound advice. Ever more love when a situation is out of my control, when fear and despair continue to scream.
This morning I reflected on how I am as an infant in the spiritual realm. I know nothing of how to live and move in that world. An infant knows only her basic needs, crying to be fed, warm, held, safe. An infant doesn’t yet recognize how her own body works, or that it produces waste that others must clean up. An infant must grow to understand the world and beings around her, to communicate. Imagine a baby saying to her mother, “Ok, this is how I think our day should go, what I think you ought to be doing.”
I’m often reminded of Peter at the transfiguration, saying, “we need to build some altars…” and God telling him to shut up and listen to Jesus (my own translation). I am Peter. I am the baby telling her parent what He ought to do.
God says, “Listen to Jesus.”
Jesus says, “Love one another.”
This concept of us as babies in the spiritual realm sticks with me. In my days of Vineyard conferences, there were huge rooms filled with people with arms wide, asking God for “more, Lord.” We were asking for more of His Spirit, to heal and fill up our emptiness. Like a toddler finding a tasty morsel, we cried, “More!”
If Love is the language of the spiritual realm, I must learn how to speak and move in love. Love stands against fear, against pride, against greed, against despair. Love hopes, believes, wills. Right now I’m sitting on a hill, the breaking surf below me. A rocky promontory in the distance juts out into the sea. The wind is howling, white waves crash again and again over those rocks. Perhaps they give a little, bringing bits of sand up onto the inner bay beach. But from here they look undaunted. From here, everything flung over them washes away.
Love and ever more love.